Solicitors in favour of allowing television cameras into courts

The main organisation which represents Scotland's lawyers has said it is in favour of allowing television cameras into the country's courts.

The Law Society has said Scotland could copy New Zealand, where judges decide whether filming can be allowed.

The society said such a move would only be possible as long as sufficient safeguards are in place, but some solicitors believe cameras would intimidate witnesses who were already nervous about appearing in court.

In the last 20 years, television cameras have filmed a handful of cases in Scotland, mainly judges announcing the outcome of appeals, and on one occasion, a convicted murderer getting a life sentence.

However, the rules are currently under review and could be changed along with current restrictions on live reporting from courtrooms using Twitter.

The first time TV news cameras were allowed to film inside a court room was when STV was granted access to David Gilroy’s sentencing at the High Court in Edinburgh in April 2012.

via STV via STV

Filming has taken place on other occasions for documentaries, including Channel 4’s The Murder Trial, which filmed Nat Fraser’s trial for his wife Arlene’s murder.

Live tweeting of court proceedings started with Tommy Sheridan’s sentencing for perjury at the High Court in Glasgow in January 2011. Permission was granted after STV applied to trial judge Lord Bracadale.

Peter Lockhart, of the Law Society, told the Scotsman: "I think we’re now moving towards the media wanting to cover (high-profile trials) there and then.

"Saying we can’t do it is a non-starter. We have to accept technology has moved on."

The Law Society says the system in New Zealand allows for witnesses to have their identities disguised. If the accused refuses to be filmed, it can only be done for 15 minutes at the start of each day, as long as the verdict or sentence is not being delivered.

Scotland's judges are now considering what should be allowed in this country's courts.

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